To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding available to further education colleges to provide remote learning and learning packages to students unable to physically attend those colleges as a result of covid-19.
21 September 2020
During the COVID-19 outbreak, further education colleges have responded swiftly to deliver education to students remotely and many have made enormous strides in the delivery of online learning, for which we are very grateful.
On 31 August 2019, the government announced that an extra £400 million would be invested in 16-19 education in 2020-21. This is the largest injection of money in a single year since 2010 and represents an increase of 7% in overall 16-19 funding. As part of this, the base rate of 16-19 funding will increase by 4.7% in the 2020/21 academic year, from £4,000 to £4,188.
We are also continuing to invest in education and skills training for adults through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) (£1.34 billion in 2020/21).
Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) allocations for 2020 to 2021 have been confirmed, and payments will be made in line with the national profile, which has been confirmed in the relevant 2020 to 2021 funding rules. This should provide the funding certainty required to seek to address the impact of responding to COVID-19.
To support remote learning specifically, we have ensured that colleges are able to gain access to devices and connectivity for students facing financial barriers to participation through the 16-19 Bursary Fund. This was always possible with the 16-19 Bursary Fund and to complement this, we have introduced a change to the ESFA and AEB Funding Rules for the 2020/21 academic year, to enable providers to use their Learner Support funds to purchase IT devices and meet learners’ IT connectivity costs.
The department has also funded professional development support for staff to improve their skills and confidence in delivering online learning through funding the Education and Training Foundation and the EdTech Demonstrator Programme which delivers free training for further education providers. We are also funding 7 College Collaboration Fund projects to develop new high-quality digital curriculum content which will begin to be available for use by the sector from the Autumn.
The department is looking carefully at all elements of further educational funding, in preparation for the forthcoming Spending Review.